In order for me to discover the meaning of my work I find I have to be physically connected to it. I often use both hands to apply the paint and to work with it on the canvas. Out of continual reworking I find that the meaning and the colour come together.
To me a visceral response to the material is essential and gives me a sense of the construction and coherence of the forms. Deep mark making, often revealing previous layers, is a vital part of my work, expressing my emotions and transmitting these directly to the canvas.
The discovery that reality is subjective is at the root of my art.
Picasso was an early influence – “Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.” — Pablo Picasso
I am intuitively perpetuating and reshaping the tradition of British abstract painting – building on the sense of excitement and freshness that led to the abstract work of the St Ives school of painting. The works of Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Patrick Heron and the sculptural forms of Barbara Hepworth resonate with me.
I am also influenced by the New York school. Particularly the mark making, scraping back and reworking of Willem de Kooning. My work references the art of the past while being fiercely independent of it.
Many of my works are structured by thick layers of pigment applied directly from the tube, buried then re-emerging through deep scratching and abrasions.
My technique with its emphasis on leaving visible traces in the surface has been described as Marksism.
My grandparents lived in remote parts of Africa in the 1960s and 70s, so despite hating long plane and car journeys I felt compelled to visit the continent. Spending time with gorillas in Rwanda was a profound and very special time. The horror of the genocide in such a beautiful country also made me question humanity.
There are no easy answers to the mess that so often seems to be our world. But there is still hope. I use my art to express my feelings in a way that I can’t express in any other form. I’ve recently been using vibrant colours – the oranges, purples and greens of the shops in Zanzibar, and the vivid reds, greens and blues of the Kenyan Masai blankets in my palette. Often with a dark overpainting before being scraped back to reveal the brighter colours beneath.
To me looking at art should mirror the way that we appreciate music. When I play the piano or listen to a piece of music my experience doesn’t require an external explanation of its meaning. It comes from deep within rather than from an appreciation of any likeness to the visible world.
I believe that you should take time to appreciate a single work. Linger don’t rush. Let it absorb you and see if it connects with you and you with it.
I was born in Wroughton, a small village in Wiltshire which is known for being the second home of the Science Museum and for the former RAF hospital which treated Terry Waite and other hostages. I still have one of my early artworks – a ceramic sculpture of a snail, a bird’s egg and a small leaf set on a larger leaf which I made when I was 5.
I lived in Bath for many years and appreciated the beauty of the Georgian architecture and the friendliness of the city that doesn’t feel like a city. I attended Sue Larner’s Ceramic Life Sculpture classes at Bath Artists Studios and exhibited clay sculptures at Bath’s contemporary art gallery 44AD in 2016.
I worked in the mental health field for most of my career and experienced the anguish but also the endurance and stoicism and hope of what it is to be human. I have always been drawn to the sea and to wild places and in 2016 moved to Ilfracombe in North Devon, a coastal town with a growing Artists Quarter on the fringes of Exmoor.
I made the decision to pursue my art seriously (and learnt to surf). My studio has a view of the sea and Ilfracombe harbour with Verity, Damien Hirst’s striking sculpture at the boundary between harbour and water.
I am largely self taught, I studied online with MOMA (Museum of Modern Art New York) and attend art classes in Devon. In June 2017 I attended the Masterclass on Colour by Patrick Jones which was held at Sandy Brown’s studio in Appledore. Patrick is one of Britain’s most renowned abstract painters and has run an Abstract Art Group in Exeter for many years, which I have joined. He has encouraged me to develop my work.
In 2018 I applied to Bath School of Art and was accepted on to the BA (hons) Fine Art programme as a part-time student. The Art School has a great reputation – Howard Hodgkin and Gillian Ayres taught here – and all the current staff are practicing artists. My work is moving into new areas in addition to my abstract work so it will be exciting to see how it develops.
2019 UPDATE My art practice is moving into both sculptural and issue based art. I am enjoying working with new materials – particularly found objects and what are usually seen as waste or construction materials. I know that art can’t change the world but I believe that it can highlight social issues to an often jaded public.
I have made 3D pieces about religious persecution and civilians caught up in conflict situations. While each viewer will respond individually they are meant to shock and to provoke discourse rather than offend.
I am working on a Doors Project dealing with attitudes to refugees and migration. I chose doors for their duality of both being an entry point and a barrier.
2016 44AD Gallery Bath
2017 Eliot Gallery Braunton
2017 Abstract Art Group exhibition at PS45 Gallery (formerly Spacex) Exeter
2018 In the Studio digital exhibition at MOMA New York
2018 NYNW at Broomhill Art Hotel N Devon
2018 Abstract Art Group exhibition at Phoenix Centre Exeter
2018 Celebration! North Devon Arts group exhibition at Broomhill Art Hotel N Devon
2018 Abstract Works solo exhibition at Bath School of Art and Design, Sion Hill
A video and photos of the Abstract Art Group’s exhibition at PS45 gallery in Exeter in Dec 2017 is available on my Facebook events page here
One of my monochrome paintings featured in MOMA’s digital art exhibition In the Studio in New York from 5 -22 Jan 2018.